Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Turf Club Bar and Grill - Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

On Saturday, we had dinner at The Turf Club Bar and Grill, which serves American cuisine in a racetrack clubhouse setting at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.  

The Turf Club is open daily for dinner, and sits alongside the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course clubhouse.  

You can dine outside on the covered patio, which I would have enjoyed had it not been so hot, or inside in the dimly lit restaurant with its wood-paneled walls. 

The Turf Club does not currently have a gluten free menu, but Chef Eric went over the menu with me.  He offered me gluten free bread, which ended up being Ener-G rolls.  I am always amused that my gluten-eating daughters ask to sample my bread at every Disney restaurant, even when they are in the midst of devouring their own bread.  These Ener-G buns got a thumbs up from both of my girls, and I thought they were pretty good, because they were well heated.  

I did not ask about gluten free appetizers, because I knew I wanted to get an entree and dessert.  Chef Eric told me that the grilled lamb chop, grilled salmon, spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, and the grilled New York strip entrees were all naturally gluten free.  

I decided to order the spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with butternut squash risotto and fried sage.  My pork was nicely seasoned, tender and cooked to temperature.  I enjoyed every bite with a little piece of the fried sage and the risotto, because I loved the marriage of all the flavors on this dish.  The butternut squash risotto was not as creamy as I expected it to be, but it tasted great, and I enjoyed the Parmesan it was served with.

My husband ordered the grilled salmon with teriyaki glaze and cilantro jasmine rice with green peas.  When I asked Chef Eric about this dish being naturally gluten free, he told me they use a tamari-based teriyaki glaze.  I sampled a couple of bites while Mitch was distracted cutting our daughter's chicken, and was impressed with both the salmon and rice.  

Nina, our international student, ordered the Turf Club Pasta with shrimp, garlic, and fresh vegetables tossed in a spicy Italian herb-infused olive oil.  She really enjoyed it, and Chef Eric told me I could have ordered it too with gluten free pasta.  He also said he could modify the sustainable fish of the day to make it gluten free.  My gluten-eating daughters loved their crispy free-range chicken breast with three-cheese macaroni & cheese with green beans almondine.  If I had ordered this dish, the chicken would not have been fried, and it would have been served with mashed potatoes instead of mac & cheese.  The Turf Club definitely has plenty of gluten free options.  

For dessert, I could choose the mango sorbet, warm seasonal fruit crisp with vanilla ice cream (minus the streusel topping), or the chocolate espresso torte with raspberry sauce and vanilla-port wine ice cream.  Four out of five of us decided we wanted the torte, which got a big thumbs up from all of my ladies.  It was smooth and creamy, and very rich, so thankfully there was plenty of ice cream, whipped cream, fruit and raspberry sauce to go with it.  

The Turf Club was highly recommended to me by a couple of my blog readers, and I can see why.  All five of us were very happy with our entrees and desserts.  From The Turf Club, it is a short walk or boat ride over to Downtown Disney.  

You can read more about The Turf Club, view their menu, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at The Turf Bar Bar and Grill?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Smoothie Bowls

The three day juice cleanse I did two weeks ago has motivated me to eat healthier, so I have been making a lot of smoothies and smoothie bowls.  

I have been hearing about smoothie bowls for a while, but wasn't completely sure what constitutes a smoothie bowl.  If your smoothie is so thick that you can't really drink it, and you're better off putting it in a bowl and eating it with a spoon, you have the beginnings of a smoothie bowl.  Next, add some toppings, which make eating a smoothie a lot more fun.  

One of my favorite things about smoothie bowls is that they are a little sweet, but not overly sweet, and I feel like I am eating ice cream or frozen yogurt for breakfast.  

Topped with my homemade granola, smoothie bowls are my new favorite way to start my day.  

This morning, I used a combination of frozen peaches, mango, blueberries and banana in my smoothie bowl.  The other pictures show smoothie bowls made with mango, peaches and banana.

Smoothie Bowl


1 1/2 C frozen fruit (I like to use no sugar added peaches, mango, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C plain kefir or plain yogurt
1 T raw honey
1/2 T golden flaxseed meal
1/2 T chia seeds
Toppings - granola, fruit, nuts, chia, flaxseed, hemp seeds, etc.


Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender.

Recipe Notes

I make my smoothie bowls in my NutriBullet, one of my favorite kitchen appliances.  It incorporates the flaxseed and chia seed in a way our regular blender cannot do.

Sometimes I use one cup of  kefir or one cup of almond milk, depending on what I have in the house.  I like a mix of flaxseed and chia, but you could just use 1 tablespoon of one of them.

I have been peeling and freezing bananas, breaking them into four equal parts, and putting them in sandwich bags.

You could also add some greens to your smoothie bowl, like kale or spinach.  Avocado would add healthy fat, and make your smoothie bowl super creamy.

When I buy almond milk, kefir, flaxseed and chia seeds, I make sure that they are labeled gluten free.

Kefir (pronounced kee-fer) is a cultured milk product, like yogurt, that contains probiotics, and is a rich source of a variety of different vitamins and minerals.  You can read more about the health benefits of kefir here.  I purchase it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or Publix.

I use orange blossom raw honey from Winter Park Honey.  We purchase it at The Fresh Market or the Winter Park Farmers' Market, which is held every Saturday.  You can read about the many health benefits of raw honey here, and the possible benefits of local honey for fighting seasonal allergies here.

You can read about the health benefits of chia seeds and flaxseed, two superfoods, here.  I use Spectrum Chia Seed and Bob's Red Mill whole ground golden flaxseed meal. 

You can view my homemade granola recipe here.

What are your favorite smoothie bowl ingredients?  

Monday, April 13, 2015

1900 Park Fare Dinner - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

On Saturday, we had dinner at 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.  Just a couple of days before we dined there, I was able to get advance dining reservations for 4:30 when they open. 

1900 Park Fare features breakfast and dinner buffets, and character dining.  

The restaurant has a carousel theme that kids will enjoy, but I did not like the fact that there wasn't any natural light in the main dining room.  

After about a 10 minute wait, Chef Brad came out to take me on a tour of the buffet, which offers different dishes on both sides.  There were so many gluten free options for me to choose from.  I was told that all the dressings were safe at the salad bar, and I could get a Caesar salad from the back without croutons.  

For soups, I tried both of the gluten free options.  I enjoyed the potato and corn soup, but the Floridian strawberry soup might have been my favorite dish at 1900 Park Fare.  This cold soup reminds me of strawberry mousse, one of my favorite desserts.  Thankfully, it is also available at breakfast, because I have advance dining reservations for next week.  You can view the recipe on The Disney Food Blog.  

I know some of you worry about getting glutened from buffets at Disney World.  Here are some of the ways I avoid cross contamination:
  • Don't be shy about asking chefs for food from the back if you are concerned about cross contamination
  • I make advance dining reservations at restaurants with buffets when they first open, and get a little bit of all the food I would like to try as soon as my tour with the chef ends
  • I knock all food off of serving spoons and take food from the back of the dish

I really liked all the food I put on my first plate at 1900 Park Fare.  Both meats at the carving station, the roasted beef and pork loin roast, were gluten free.  With a side of their apple chutney, I thought the pork was delicious.  The beef was very good as well, but it was cooked a little more than I like.  I also enjoyed the mashed potatoes, jasmine rice, peel-n-eat shrimp, and the spice-crusted salmon with mango salsa and crispy plantains.  The crispy plantains are made in a dedicated fryer, so no worries about cross contamination.   

The only thing I did not enjoy at 1900 Park Fare was the edamame salad.  My favorite dish from my second plate of food was the bratwurst.  It was served with sauerkraut, which I avoided, but I liked the bratwurst so much, I went back for seconds.  I also loved the cheesy potato casserole and tomato-mozzarella salad.  I couldn't pass up the tater tots, which are made in a dedicated fryer.  There were other gluten free dishes on the buffet that I did not try, and Chef Brad offered to bring me gluten free bread from the back, which I passed on.  

My only food disappointment was that 1900 Park Fare did not have any house made gluten free desserts, but I did enjoy my OMG...It's Gluten Free Brownie with vanilla ice cream, and raspberry and mango sauces.  My gluten-eating daughters love these brownies so much, they both asked to taste my dessert, even though they had their own chocolate treat from the buffet.  One of them even said to me, "Mommy, you are not missing out on anything. Yours is better."  Chef Brad told me they also have gluten free cookies available.

At Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner, Cinderella, her fairy godmother, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizella visited our table.  My husband and I loved the character interaction, but my twins, who are very shy and about to turn 10, were not happy at all that they had to take pictures with them.  

The villains from Cinderella did an amazing job interacting with our daughters, who wanted to have nothing to do with them, and they even managed to get my girls to smile.  

Overall, my whole family enjoyed the food at 1900 Park Fare.  There were plenty of gluten free options for dinner, and I thought the price was reasonable for an all-you-care-to-eat character meal at Disney.  Adult meals were $41.99 and children ages 3-9 were $19.99, but prices can vary depending on the time of year and day of the week.  We were able to use our Tables in Wonderland card to save 20% off our meal, but be aware that 1900 Park Fare has blackout dates for the discount at peak times of the year.

You can read more about 1900 Park Fare, view their menus and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at 1900 Park Fare?  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Williams-Sonoma Gluten Free Sweet Blueberry Quick Bread Mix

This morning, I used Williams-Sonoma Gluten Free Sweet Blueberry Quick Bread Mix to make blueberry muffins.  You can purchase this mix at your local Williams-Sonoma or on their website.  

Seasonally, the gluten free quick bread mixes available at Williams-Sonoma can change.  They currently offer the sweet blueberry, and Meyer lemon poppy seed quick bread mixes.  My favorite so far has been the gingerbread spice, which they offered around Christmas.  We also enjoyed the spiced apple cider quick bread mix that was available last fall.  All of these mixes are made with Cup4Cup, my favorite gluten free all-purpose flour.  

I followed the directions for preparation of the blueberry quick bread batter.  I combined the quick bread mix with 11 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 2/3 a cup of water, and 2 eggs in a large bowl.  After mixing my batter well, I divided it equally between the 12 cups of my muffin pan, which I greased with a little bit of butter.  I baked my muffins for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  If I had made quick bread, it would have taken 55 to 60 minutes to bake, which isn't possible when I am trying to get to church by 9am on a Sunday morning.  

The mix contains gluten free flour (cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum), sugar, dried blueberries (cultivated blueberries, sucrose, sunflower oil), baking powder, salt, natural vanilla flavor, natural lemon flavor, and citric acid.  This product contains milk, and is prepared and packaged using machines that may come in contact with eggs, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  

My husband and I really enjoyed the muffins.  The had the perfect amount of blueberries for me, and they were sweet, but not too sweet.  The muffins were nice and moist, and had a good texture.  Sadly, my daughters did not enjoy them, because they don't like cooked blueberries.  I was hoping these muffins would change their mind about blueberries in baked goods, but that was wishful thinking on my part.  Thankfully, I have found that muffins made with Williams-Sonoma quick bread mixes freeze really well.  They are great for a quick breakfast during the work/school week.  I defrost them for 70 seconds in the microwave, and they are ready to go.

What is your favorite Williams-Sonoma gluten free quick bread mix?